The Pros and Cons of Having a Debit Card for Your Business
Pros of a Business Debit Card:
1. It’s Convenient
Since most merchants accept debit cards, you typically don’t have to worry about having a backup payment method. Using a debit card is as simple as swiping it and entering your personal identification number (PIN). The money is then deducted from your checking or savings account. You also have the added convenience of getting cash back when you need it –either after completing a transaction with a merchant or by using your debit card at an ATM.
2. It Keeps You on a Budget
Unlike a credit card, which allows you to borrow and spend money you might not have, a debit card limits your spending to what’s in your checking or savings account. While you may be charged a fee if you accidentally overdraw your account, you’ll avoid the high interest rates and late payment fees that credit card companies charge if you overspend and can’t make your payments.
3. It’s Easy to Get
With a business credit card, you may have to go through an extensive application process that includes a credit check and proving your earnings history. On the other hand, most banks or credit unions will offer you a debit card when you open your business checking or savings account, even if you have questionable credit or no credit history at all.
Cons of a Business Debit Card:
1. It Won’t Boost Your Credit Score
When you borrow money, you build good credit by keeping your debt usage low and making all your payments on time. However, since a debit card only gives you access to money you already have, using it doesn’t impact your credit score. While this may not seem like a bad thing, you’ll need to find other ways to build your credit history to eventually qualify for a business credit card or loan.
2. You’re Limited to What’s in Your Account
If you need to make a large transaction and your account balance is low, your debit card won’t be very helpful. Unlike credit cards or lines of credit that can give you access to financing when your cash flow dips, debit cards limit your spending to your available cash balance. In other words, you may need an alternate source of funds.
3. It Offers Less Protection than a Credit Card
If someone steals your credit card, you can simply dispute any unauthorized purchases and get a new card. However, because money is immediately deducted from your account when someone uses your debit card, unauthorized transactions put your funds directly at risk. According to FICO, the number of debit cards that were compromised at ATMs and merchant card readers rose by 70 percent between 2015 and 2016 – and that number rose another 39 percent through the first half of 2017. Due to this, if you have a debit card, you should keep your card number and PIN safe at all times.
Is a Debit Card Right for Your Business?
You have many options for how to manage your cash flow and spending when starting your own business, including debit cards, credit cards, cash, and newer forms of electronic payments like mobile wallets. While debit cards are convenient, easy to qualify for, and can help you avoid going into debt, they also offer fewer protections than credit cards and won’t help you build good credit. Ultimately, it’s important to weigh all your options and the pros and cons of each option before deciding what’s best for your business.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.